Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gotta Love Waffles

ironWaffles just aren’t very practical in my house.  Years ago, I used to buy the frozen blueberry ones in a box.  It was ridiculous how we went through those.  I had to put my foot down.  Nowadays I don’t make them often because it takes forever—I can only produce two every six minutes.  It is an all morning affair.

But on rare occasions, when there isn’t anything pressing that morning, I pull out the waffle iron and pop the beaters and mixing bowl into the freezer (I fold whipped egg whites into my batter for melt-in-your-mouth fluffiness).  The kids know what that means, and all of a sudden, this boring morning with nothing to do is magically transformed into a holiday! 

Someone volunteers to whip the egg whites while I compile the rest of the ingredients into a thick batter.  I like to double the recipe to make the most of the work.  If I am going to be chained to the kitchen, I might as well commit, right?  My goal is to have a few waffles to freeze so that we can have a labor-free treat on some school morning.  More often, we just have waffles for breakfast, brunch, lunch and linner.  waffles

Ok, so it isn’t the healthiest thing ever.  But to have that lazy family morning where everyone is close, waiting for the timer to ding again, chatting, snuggling, with nothing better to do than to just be together… It is worth being a little hypoglycemic come late afternoon, isn’t it?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Done with School!

We have finished our school year!  I exceeded my goal and we finished with time to spare.  This year (Core 3+4 Sonlight) we studied American History and it was a review for my son and I, and more of a survey course for my daughter. Next year (Core 5 Sonlight) we are going to study the Eastern Hemisphere.  I am so insanely excited about it. 

dark hands hold the worldThe reviews of the course seem to be in agreement that the Core 5 is pretty demanding and there is a big leap in expectations from Core 4 to Core 5.  I pushed us through this year so that we would have plenty of time to really immerse ourselves into the next one.  American History is reviewed in the years to come, but Eastern Hemisphere is never given this sort of focus again.  I want to watch movies, do projects, and have themed days at the end of each people group we study.  I figure that will be the best way to help the lessons sink into to their long-term memory, especially for my non-auditory learning gal.Early May 2010, Burns and Kalbachs 047

I have this whole next month to plan and schedule events to reinforce the lessons.  I really enjoy planning!  Too much.  I purposely bought a curriculum that doesn’t require planning.  I tend to choose planning over doing, and when it comes to the kids, that is a pretty stinky choice for me to make.  I hear myself saying thing akin to, ‘Stop bugging me while I plan this fantastic day.  I am doing it all for you.’  Rotten.

Hopefully, I can resist that temptation and get things settled pretty quickly and easily!  I look forward to recording on this blog the adventures we will have exploring the other half of the world!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It isn’t Easy to be Mom

Last night was supposed to be a special treat.  Daddy was away and we do like to play!  The kids sleep in my room when my darling husband is out of the house. We read stories, sing songs, play games and I tell them about when they were babies.  That last part is probably their favorite part, the little narcissists!

My secret from them is that the tradition is just as much for my peace of mind as it is fun for the kids.  I like to have everyone close by without a man in the house to keep us safe.  When they aren’t I don’t sleep well, and I am straining to hear and identify every little sound.

But yesterday my little girl broke a rule, then covered it up.  In our family, we don’t punish anything like we do lying.  The deal was that the next time she lied, she had to go to bed immediately and stay there until morning—no matter what time of day it was.  And if it was late, she would stay in bed the whole rest of the next day.

See, my gal is very social.  Being alone is the worst punishment ever for her.  Last time she was supposed to go to bed as punishment we granted her a reprieve.  It felt right and we talked about grace and mercy and how we all fall short.  Blah blah blah.  The girl did it again!  I was so disappointed!  Not only do I not tolerate lying, I just get exasperated watching this little darling work against her own best interest.  

Here was our special night and I had to exclude her.  It stinks being a mom.  I didn’t even do it very well.  I went in and stayed with her a while.  We talked about the consequences of lying, masks, trustworthiness, the whole nine yards.  I know it is time to stop talking and just let her bear the consequences, but the little rat is my chick and I happen to like being with her!

When I told my son that she wouldn’t be joining us, I could see he felt the same way.  We were both wanting to just grab her and bring her in for story time. 

This is comparatively a small thing.  She was supposed to clean her room, but hid the junk under towels instead.  No big deal, and perfectly typical.  I hope I am doing the right thing by making it a big deal, though.  I want her to learn the lessons with my fake consequences now so she won’t wander into real trouble with consequences doled out by the real world.  She better learn this lesson toot sweet, because I want to get on with just being a family!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Working at the Car Wash, Baby!

waterfallOur poor van was screaming for some attention.  It was so dirty that it really wasn’t safe to drive during sunrise or sunset.  The front glass lit up with dead things.  Ew!  Family car wash time!  mom and girl

My daughter loves car wash time, and is shameless about wanting to get wetter than the van.  My son offers a bit of challenge, though.  He plays hard to get.  He’s not too bad about anticipating our moves and keeping the van between himself and the business end of the hose.  This time, my husband finally had to get our daughter into his employ to hold our son so he could get his dousing!  In retaliation, my boy grabbed the scrub brush to give Daddy a run for his money! 

In the end, the parents win!  Both kids are too wet to even be allowed in the house.  When I brought out towels and tossed one each to the kids, they immediately began to dry themselves!  Frankly they were in more need of it than the van.  All’s well that ends well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

OK, the Fly Thing is Getting a Little Ridiculous!

00314065We aren’t even bothering to count by ones anymore, so I guess it is a good life lesson in math. But having to count flies killed by tens gets a little old, no matter how dedicated one might be to capturing natural learning moments.  I am hearing the buzzing in my sleep!  Every time a door opens a new flock swarms in, those opportunistic buggars!  Hmm… Spell check doesn’t think that is a word.  Must be nice!

We are actually studying insects in science, and if I were a good kind of mom, I would trap one and let the kids study it.  While I am not above feeling like a brave Mickey Mouse slapping away at a throng of flies, it does feel too cruel to me to allow the kids to capture one and hold it prisoner.  I am such a girl!

But the apple doesn’t fall too far.  The other day, we bonded as a family while going after the flies.  As much as I am a girl, my husband is a boy.  He couldn’t resist teasing our daughter.  He told her there was a dead fly on her arm.  Will the insurance pay for the broken window if I say her scream caused it?  She put my own squeamish utterings to shame.  There was no fly, but she just had to go wash her arms anyhow.  When she was done, she came over and pushed her Daddy for making her scream.  What a girl!

Fun moments aside, I am very ready for the flies to go bye-bye once and for all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tighter? Really?? Or ~ Contact Lens Woes

I have pretty poor eyesight.  I am far beyond hoping to see anything on the standard eye chart and passed up legally blind over a decade ago.  The professionals I have seen don’t bother with that 20/20 scale.  Last I heard, back in college, I was 20/1800.  If you wear contact lenses, the prescription may hold some meaning to you.  Mine is –8.75.  Only certain companies make lenses in that power.  On top of that, I have an astigmatism. 

Most of the time, this really doesn't matter.  I mean, who doesn't have an astigmatism?  I wear my contacts or glasses—though I prefer the former—and live life.

Lately, it has garnered far too much attention in my daily routine.  I unexpectedly ran out of contacts in May.  My pack rat tendencies caught up with me when I realized, too late, that my stash of lenses were all in prescriptions too week.  Then I couldn’t get into my doctor until July!  What was I going to do?  It took several days of finagling to buy some more contacts online.  Drama.Contact Len on Finger closeup

When I did get in, my doctor felt that normal contacts aren’t giving me the correction I need.  So he decided to try out a new contact lens for me—Touric, if you know what that means. Apparently, you have to ‘orient’ these lenses, so there is a top and a bottom.

I tried them for the first time, but they would float around every time I blinked.  I was seeing double out of one eye—when you include the other eye, does that mean you see three total, or just one and a half?

Anyhow, needless to say, this sample was a no go.  I need a tighter fit, so the contact won’t swim and swirl in my eye.  Tighter.  What?  I actually like small places, but the idea of tighter contact lenses makes me feel a little claustrophobic.  How about you?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

God is Good

We have this poplar tree towering over the entire neighborhood that is dead as dead can be. It has been dead or dying for about eight years.

We took down this tree’s six friends that lined our backyard fence seven or eight years ago. We have called to have this one taken down, but we hit the same old rigmarole we always hit trying to do business in this town. It is either too expensive or no response at all.

I even called our insurance to see if they would help cut the cost. They said they sure would just as soon as it came crashing through the roof and around our ears. So helpful, those guys!

So our solution? I sleep in the living room on windy nights to ensure that our kids will only be 50% orphaned.

Imagine our surprise when someone knocked on our door yesterday afternoon and said he’d take down the tree, clean up the mess and be here the next day all for an itty bitty fraction of the quotes from the guys who’d bothered to show up to give estimates!!!

That is exactly what happened and today we have just a stump in the yard!! Whoo hooo! I can sleep in peace next to my darling husband on even the stormiest of nights!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Yesterday my dad came by with his wife and nephew.  (Aren’t blended families fun?  Thankfully, while we may stumble over relationship titles occasionally, we love all the people.)

When I was a kid my dad used to do math games with me when I had visitation time with him.  Frankly, I hated it.  I loved the attention—I was positively anemic for love and praise from my dad—but I never felt good enough or fast enough during these games.  It didn’t occur to me that making a mistake didn’t reflect on my intrinsic worth.

To this day, I get all squirmy and my brain freezes when someone asks me a question that has to do with math.  It is silly how frantic I get on the inside making change, or calculating the simplest sums.   new numbers

My son, praise the Lord, is a little more grounded and a lot more confident than I was at his age.  He is also blessed with the math genes.  Mental math isn’t an exercise or goal for him, but just a way of being, the stinker!

So yesterday when my dad came over, he had a math problem.  If a random number generator generated numbers 1 to 100 100 times, what is the probability of 1 coming up.  Or something like that.  They all worked on it for about an hour.  I was really enjoying watching my son work with my dad and step-mom.  He made leaps that weren’t always right, but could follow instructions to get to the right place.  He was comfortable being wrong, and thrilled with each breakthrough.

My dad is a good teacher, too.  He let him leap ahead, even if he was wrong, to foster the excitement, but knew how to steer him to the right step.  He also read his face—my son’s an open book with his unfiltered facial expressions—and responded accordingly. 

My little girl, on the other hand, begged me silently on the sidelines to play the piano or dance or anything to try and get some attention pulled from this  vortex of numbers swirling around the room.  They keep saying she’s just like me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Plug In

00387192One day, my darling husband went to the van to pick up his iPod only to find it submerged under water in our junk bucket between the front seats.  It seems a water bottle leaked and filled the bucket enough to completely cover the iPod. 

At my husband’s work, one day a week my husband literally drives in slow circles for 8 hours.  I kid you not.  He downloads apologetics talks and world view podcasts to his iPod so he can stay awake, especially if he happened to have worked 16 hours the previous day.

So imagine his consternation at seeing this life line to the waking world made useless.  In despair and desperation, he went to the store to look for a cheap replacement.  He came home with an iTouch.  In case you are confused: yes, he was looking for a cheap replacement, and yes, he bought an iTouch.  No, the two don’t exactly gel.

Here comes the good news that kind of burns as it goes down: that iPod?  The one ruined to the state of an expensive sleek paperweight?  It dried out and is all better!!!  What?  What? Well, that is good news…?  I mean, it is a nice testimony to the durability of the thing, right?  I’m sorry, I forgot where I was.  I can’t seem to keep my eyes from sliding over to that not so cheap replacement of a perfectly functioning iPod.

So now, more than ever, I have just got to make that thing make itself worth while.  When it was just a moment of weakness bought to replace an MP3 player, it was a little annoying.  But now it is this extra, not-cheap, piece of equipment that can be a whole lot more than an MP3 player. 

To make this thing earn its room an board—don’t mock the crazy lady—I have done the research and downloaded pages of education applications.  I even have a couple that can hook me up with free audio and regular books.  Pretty cool tool for a homeschooling family! 

But then, out of nowhere, this old lady bursts from my mouth—I think my voice actually becomes raspy.  “What happened to old fashioned social graces?”  “Why do you always have to have your face in a screen?”  “Would it kill you to spend 30 minutes totally unconnected from technology?”  “Look at me when I talk to you!”  *gasp*  Where did that southern accent come from??


Such a delicate balance it is.  All the technology makes life easier—until it doesn’t.  When the people in my family have a deeper connection with something that plugs in than with something that breathes, we have a problem.  They are new, shiny and entertaining.  But we must remember they are tools; they work for us, not the other way around.  When we start feeling that compulsion, ‘I have to check this one more time,’ it is time to achieve some freedom and get the tables turned back ‘round.

But as long as we can exercise  some self-control, and grip our priorities of living things first, I guess we can have some fun plugging in for short bursts.  I grabbed some cool science, math and writing games, access to various museums and reference tools for when we are out and about.  We’ll see how we fare!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not too far

As I type my nephew is moving into his dorm room to finish his college degree.  Gosh!  Stick a fork in him, because he's done!  I know parenting never ends.  I know I will be a momma long past the time my kids move out.  I look forward to the next chapter of grand-parenting, loving on my kids-in-law and all the other adventures of having adult children.

But, there is a point when one level of parenting is gone, and my nephew has crossed that line.  The thought leaves me staggering and gasping for breath.  I wonder if I am taking it harder than my sister and brother-in-law. He's done.  From this point on, he is responsible for himself.  My sister is going to have to trust her son, her past parenting and the Lord-in-the-middle that everything is going to be all right.  Pencils down, it is over.

Whew!  It is an overwhelming thought to me.  Not on behalf of my sister.  She did an awesome job, and has a fantastic kid as fruit of her labors.  She chose to be a stay-at-home mom when everyone scorned her for being lazy, taking advantage of her husband and wasting her own talents and mind.  She refused medicine for her ADD boy in the face of well meaning tsks of disapproval over that wild boy.  She decided to homeschool while people made doomsday predictions about hot-house flowers.

It didn't take long, though, for people to see her sacrifices paying off.  I began making homeschool plans a short 6 years after she began and I heard not a peep of disapproval from anyone who knew my sister or her kids.  She was a success that quickly, so I am sure she has not abnormal worries about how her kids will fare on their own.  They are great kids given a great start.

But I worry.   About my own delivery of teaching to my kids.  I want to be more than enough for them.  I don't want to fail them.  But I am so very little.  I have a temper, I am lazy, and my best laid plans really don't mean much if I don't do anything to carry them out, do they?

I celebrate this day for my sister and her family.  I am eager to hear how life is at the college hours from home.  I can't wait to see who this already great kid becomes as he steps into adulthood.  I pray blessing over my kids and their spouses.  I pray they are prepared, and press into the protective provision of their Lord.  Mostly I pray to stay close, to matter, to help how I can, and to be in relationship with my own great kids--they really are neat!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Promise in Moses

We had a great conversation in school today. The lesson was about Moses. We were learning that Moses' family and childhood prepared him for leading the slaves from Egypt. God acts with equal purpose today when placing His children into families.

The analogy we used was getting ready to go outside without knowing in any way what the weather would be. How do you prepare for that? Truly, it matters greatly if you are walking out to frozen tundra, scorching dessert, a racing tornado, or a mild spring day. Without appropriate dress, you could easily die!

But I don't know the weather any better than the children I am supposed to be dressing do. That is where faith comes in. God knows I make jackets. He knows my neighbor makes light cotton blouses, and the family on the other side is all about the anorak.

He also knows all there is to know about our children: their strengths and weaknesses; the trials, temptations and triumphs to come. And He knows how to best prepare and equip His precious lambs for their specific futures. The first step was to place them in the perfect family.

I can't tell you the wonderful peace that came over me as we talked about this. It is just another reminder that I don't need to be everything or cover everything before I send my kids into the world. I just need to make my coats.

And if they find themselves in a warmer climate, they will rip those jackets up and sew them into a shade. Or if they find themselves next to an ocean, they might turn the sleeves into inner tubes. I may wander in and wonder what on earth they are doing with my beautiful jackets. I can imagine being totally flabbergasted! I must remember that it is only my job to make what I make and give what I have. What they do with it is up to them. I will thank the Lord that they still find my jackets worth keeping around at all!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Jury Duty that didn't happen..

I got called for jury duty. It isn't the first time, and I would love to serve one day. But I have been called enough to know that there is a pattern to my jury duty experience that makes the day more of an inconvenience than any satisfying experience in practicing good citizenship.

I get called up, they find out my husband is a correctional officer and that I am a homeschooling mom. I am politely thanked and sent on my way. This is especially frustrating if I am low on the list. Waiting for two hours to be questioned and summarily excused tempts me to just walk up front and announce my unattractive traits that render me ineligibility, just for the sake of expediency.

But, I am not in charge, so I just go with the flow. I was so touched by the various offers of child care I received when I let people know I'd been summoned. My little girl said it would be most fun to be babysat by her cousins, living three hours away. I couldn't accommodate that request, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask my dad to come watch the kids. He said not to count on him, so I lined up other plans for the kids. But yesterday he said he managed to get the day off, after all! Joy!! Dancing kids! Excitement that Mommy was leaving!

You are supposed to call the night before your jury duty day to confirm that all is still a 'go.' I forgot to make the call until after 10 last night. As I was calling, I prayed. I do each time. It would be most convenient for me to just have it canceled. But I know it isn't about me. I prayed that I would love this one to be canceled, Lord, but I didn't have faith larger than a mustard seed that it would. As the call continued to ring, I swelled with faith and prayed that while my faith is small about the case being cancelled, it is unshakable in that He is in charge, and He sees the whole picture and knows what is best for all the people involved.

The machine picked up and announced the case had been canceled!! I could barely believe it! I checked the corresponding numbers to confirm that I was not supposed to go to court. I am not! I shot a quick late night call to my dad to let him know and danced my way to bed.

I was ready to go, everything lined up and planned to cover all the bases. Kids were even equipped with phone numbers in case my dad was late and I had to leave them here alone. I was ready. I also recognize that this is a minuscule part in the life of someone else. A single unlikely juror hardly blips on the screen of someone facing an impending trial. I knew my place.

I know God didn't do this for me. But I do still feel loved and buoyed by His presence in even the small things.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Puppy!

Our beloved Beagle is 2 today! We just love her so much and almost daily express thankfulness that she is in our family. Naturally that would make her birthday a special event worth celebrating. So today we went to Hobo Camp in the morning to swim in the river--not our dog's favorite thing. Then we had Lego Club. She loves all the friends who come over to play.

Finally, we went to Janesville Park--nothing less than the best park in the area for our pooch, than you very much! We had BBQ hot dogs--Bailey doesn't get people food, but we made an exception today. And there is a big soccer/baseball field there. My daughter called it doggy paradise! We can't run as fast as she can, so we had to stage ourselves across the fields and sort of tag team run with her. She was just loving it!

It was a great day!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eagle Lake Village

We have been a few times now to the retirement home to make some friends. The communication there leaves something to be desired. We are asked by phone to come and told what we will be doing, but when we arrive, no one expects us, no one has heard of us or knows what to do with us. Not a whole lot of fun...

But we aren't there to just have fun. We want to make friends, and I want my kids to be exposed to a wider variety of people. Mostly, I would like for them to serve--to be in a relationship where their desires and interested aren't top priority. I think we are achieving that.

Nevertheless, I have to confess that I was getting worn down with all the back and forth in our visits. We were finding ourselves just sitting for an hour through the bingo game and not really talking to anyone--except for my boy who has made fast friends with one of the ladies and has always belonged next to her.

Yesterday was needed for my fickle spirit. We were still not wholly expected or recognized. But we were welcomed warmly and we did end up doing what had been originally asked of us. And I am now pretty sure that one lady who has given me serious pause about our presence at the retirement home is actually a resident, which changes everything. Thinking that this isn't a trained and paid staff member, but another lady in need of care helps me to feel more patient and gracious.

Oh! But even as I type that, I am ashamed that I wouldn't be patient and gracious with any other human being. Goodness knows I don't need round the clock care, but I still need compassionate grace for all of my rough edges!

However it works out, I am blessed by the good things of yesterday's visit. We got to see the paintings of my son's friend. She told us stories, showed us newspaper articles and trophies, and was so unselfconciously proud to let us glimpse the life she's led. That was awesome!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Help! She's all Better!

Oh, my goodness! My kids' regular modus operandi in recuperating is to be cranky as sick wears off. I don't especially enjoy that, but it is a sign that I have come to both expect and see as something good. Yesterday my daughter was better, but I forced to her stay laying down and kept her food mild. She cried and said she wanted to run. Run?

Apparently while my son and I went to play Bingo at the retirement center--a blog post unto itself--my husband promised my daughter that today she could run and jump and skip to her heart's content. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. But I have not gotten a good night's sleep all week and I am feeling most exhausted in the early morning.

Imagine my surprise when before 7:30 my daughter, fully dressed complete with straw hat, bursts from her room across the hall from mine skipping down the hall! I hear her in the kitchen for a bit. Then she skipped into my room to let me know breakfast was ready for everyone. I said, 'Well I guess we better get up, then, hadn't we?"

I came out here to find the books we'd read yesterday in her room were on the couch, signaling a clean bedroom on top of the all the skipping, dressing and breakfast-making. She barely sat for breakfast and hasn't stopped twirling and dancing and running since. It is only 8:24. She's got to wear out soon, right? And am I a horrible mother for wishing for a sluggish crank right about now?

My Sweet Boy

My son wants to be an author. I am really proud of him. He started a blog yesterday to post about his current and future book ideas. I have never met anyone at any age who loves to write like he does. He says he thinks in narration. As he plays and moves through his days, he can see words play out before him about what he is doing.

He has a great imagination and an unending supply of story ideas. I want this for him. I hope I can be the mom who gives him what he needs to achieve this dream.

He is so special and smart and sweet. Watching him put his own desires and needs aside for his sister these last couple of days while she is sick has really made my heart swell. I am proud of him. I like him. Isn't that grand?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Get on the Couch and Stay on the Couch, or You have to go to BED!

You know it is a sure sign of recovery when the girl cries because she isn't allowed to run. Goodness, she keeps me on my toes. Yesterday she was fevered and lost her voice. She ached everywhere. Last night she was awake most of the time, unable to get comfortable. I slept with her and suffered likewise.

This morning her fever was on its way down, to our collective relief. We have bingo at the retirement center today, tomorrow and Tuesday because the regular lady is at a funeral. We also have--and this is the most important--friends coming for our monthly dinner and game night. We really look forward to this and had to cancel last week because Brian was sick. We missed last month because they were traveling. So we are all itching for a get-together.

Now she is all but healthy, but we want to keep her still to be fully restored. A backslide when we are so close to health would be such a disappointment. As willing as she is to cooperate, there is still something in her that wants to frantically giggle and leap around the house like a certifiable maniac. Lord, help us all!

Mission: On its way?

One of the major missions I have as a parent is my kids being close friends. I am simply not content with using 'normal' as an excuse to allow for fussing sibs in my house. There are times I feel like a miserable failure in this endeavor. And it breaks my heart.

That alone would garner me the advise to let the mission go--unreasonable expectations leading to disappointment that could be avoided. But I am stubborn. And normal is just not our goal in any aspect of this life.

My girl has a sore throat. She had one yesterday, but all she got was sympathy and extra TV time. Today she is getting strict bed rest because we are kicking sick out of the house! When my boy heard these orders, he was sad for her and went looking for Daddy's iTouch to give her a little entertainment. It can't be found--I PRAY it is WITH Daddy!

I decided we could just go pile into her room with books and school in there. As I was making movements in that direction, I heard the tell-tale clink of the chess pieces. Hmmm...

I grabbed my camera and slunk down the hall. Sure enough, there they are! I know in 15 minutes they could be fussing over some something, but I will bask in this for now.

Actually, I came out to write this after taking a couple of photos. While typing this in, my son came out to make her some toast for breakfast!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Meteor Shower

We had such a nice time Thursday night.  I let the kids sleep in that morning, knowing we would be up super late to watch the meteors.  We waited until Daddy went to bed, then we got in sleeping bags on the trampoline.  While the kids kept an eye on the sky, I finished our book on the Wright Brothers. 

It was so cold that my finger and elbow joints were stiff with pain.  So we hauled ourselves off the trampoline and into the house for some hot chocolate!  We finished the book, read 2 Samuel 20-22 and headed back out just after midnight.

Sadly we never really saw a 'shower.'  It was more like random sprinklings.  The kids fell asleep while I kept looking.  I woke up through the night to check out the sky, but never saw much.  Once the sun rose, I high-tailed it inside to my comfy memory foam mattress!  Heaven!  The trampoline wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, but I did get a little sea sick when the wind would blow or kid rolled over.  As cold as it was, the sleeping bags and cuddling made it tolerable if we kept our faces covered.

It was a fun adventure without quite the payoff we'd expected.  But I enjoyed the time with the kids, and we had some great scientific and theological conversations staring at the thousands of stars.  I am so thankful that we can do special things like that!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gone Fishing

My kids and husband were going to go fishing with one of my husband's old partners on Tuesday. My daughter had gone once before years ago, and still talks about it like it happened yesterday. It is one of her favorite memories. I was excited to give my son the experience.
Sadly, Brian and I got a stomach bug last week. The night before they were supposed to go fishing, my son said his stomach hurt. I held it in my heart, but said nothing. At four the next morning, he couldn't stand up straight because of the pain. They had to go without him. I cried.

What was bothering him didn't last the day, but he would never have had any fun that morning on a sloshing boat ride. My girl had a great time, but was lonely. Today my dh is taking just the boy to a movie to make up for the special time lost.

I don't always understand why these things happen the way they do. I had planned on walking to my eye appointment that morning--otherwise I would have gone fishing, too. I had to cancel that appointment. I am glad my son isn't sick the way I had been last week, but I am curious about the timing of it all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

JR. Ranger Day

I have to admit that we aren't real 'joiners.'  We stick to ourselves, probably to a fault and to our own detriment.  Yesterday we stepped out of our box and attended the Jr Ranger program at the Eagle Lake Ranger Station.  The kids had a blast!  It didn't hurt that some of their favorite KidsROCK friends were there, too!

My husband and I were really impressed with the teachers, their style and the games they played.  I like a mellow teacher who can still maintain order.  These guys did that.  The team building exercised they played were really neat and gave us some good discussion time on the way home.

The other thing I thought was neat was the family friendly atmosphere.  One teacher was pregnant, another had her three month old strapped on.  Last year we were led on a wild flower tour from someone who brought her nursing baby along.  What a cool place to work!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ny Niece's Birthday

Today is my dear niece's birthday.  I mentioned it to my sweet husband last night and he just sighed.  After a moment he said, 'She's 17?'  I confirmed and he said he can remember so clearly meeting her.  She was three and naked and infatuated with him.  She climbed all over him. 

My husband was not a kid person.  He was distinctly uncomfortable around children.  He grew up with just one brother, no cousins, and just never had occasion to be around people much younger than he was.  So, a naked little girl scaling his body and clamoring for his attention practially sent him into shock.  He'd hold perfectly still, afraid she was going to fall, more afraid to reach out and touch something he shouldn't to save her.
How times have changed.  I assume my niece keeps her clothes on these days.  And it seems to be the boys who clamor for her attention. 

And my husband?  While I wouldn't call him a kid person, he is perfectly comfortable around them.  And I am proud to say, doesn't even bat an eye at a nursing mom! 

Last night he was wrestling with dog and daughter when he cried uncle and said he was done.  My daughter said he needed a break because he is old *gasp.*  He spun around, grabbed her and put her on the couch to tickle her into submission.  No fear these days!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


In theory, I am a proponent of exploration, getting dirty and teaching initiative.  We are studying insects in science right now and I was quite proud of myself for redirecting my fearful daughter to go outside even though the backyard is 'full' of bees.  I told her to catch one and identify all of its parts.  She wasn't having any of that, but when I suggested she do the same with a different insect, she was off like a rocket.

I could hear the squealing through the windows as, what I could only assume, they made efforts to capture some creepy crawly.  I was able to smile and champion them when they burst inside triumphant with their creature.  But this is where my true colors peek out from behind my lofty theories.  I am just a girl.  A silly, squeamish, squeaky girl.

Bugs are yucky.  I don't want to get too close and I don't want one getting loose in my house.  And these facts are all I can think about when the kids go through the process of transferring, watering, and inspecting their newly named grasshoppers--Frankie and Benny, by the way.

Because I know I am all squishy girly on the inside, I don't trust my instincts.  When they named them and my daughter claimed that these are their new pets forever, I kept my mouth shut.  Thank goodness, the voice of reason came from my darling husband!!  He said it would not be OK to keep them, because they would die.  Whew!!  Why didn't I say that?  Oh, I know.  Because the only words in my head were, 'No!  Get them out, now!'

It is nice when all ends well. My girliness properly restrained, the kids got a hands-on lesson, and Frankie and Benny will return to their outdoor residences. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Now that's what I call a Friend!

I am reading this book and the main character has just found a dead body--I love a fun whodunnit.  She is properly traumatized, so her husband calls the main character's best friend and leaves the message, 'be at our house, she needs you.'

They get a call back and the friend confirms that she will be there and asks the husband if she needs "a bottle of cognac, prescriptions tranquilizers, or chocolate cookies and freshly ground espresso beans."  The husband leaves it up to her and the main character knows the friend will bring it all.

Isn't that a great friend??  Now, I don't drink and I would be too chicken to try tranqs, but the idea of a friend who will be there, without knowing the problem, is pretty cool.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


A very silly and inconsequential thing happened today that really sent me reeling trying to examine how to raise my kids. 

Today was our second day at the retirement home.  No one remembered us!  It was only two week ago that we went, and I hadn't been too surprised that the residents forgot us, but to have the staff forget was a little disconcerting.  Ironically, as we approached the building, I said to the kids that it was so nice to know we were expected this time.  It took the nerves away and it was very different from our first walk up.  Then we had to start all over again!

Anyhow, we went into the dining area where they play BINGO and someone was already set up to be the caller.  I introduced us and said that we would like to play.  It was awkward, but I was trying to go with the flow.  Next came the trouble with where we were going to sit.  My son, comfortable anywhere, sat himself down with the same lady he'd sat with before. 

But for my daughter and I, it was remarkably complicated.  They were still waiting on some ladies, and it seems everyone has a favorite spot.  Once we got ourselves settled, I asked if anyone had caught the electrical storm last night--a stunning show!  The caller, who was older, but I don't think was a resident, sharply interrupted the other ladies in the room with a final, 'no.'  It drew me up short, and I didn't know how to respond to the other ladies asking me to repeat myself. 

The game abruptly started, even before some ladies had arrived--I think to end the conversation about the lighting.  Why?  I have no idea.   I was surprised to see the caller playing her own set of cards, but since I am really a Bingo novice, I didn't think much of it.

Then, two ladies arrived that required more over-complicated shuffling of people.  My daughter and I ended up sitting next to two lovely ladies and I wish we could have spend more time really talking with them.

Since we weren't calling, my daughter and I played the game.  The second round...my gal won!  She got a Bingo!  And the caller ignored us.  OK.  I guess that is ok.  We are here to serve, after all.  But, everyone else in the room had all heard us say, 'Bingo,' and were confused that the game continued.  Then, the next ball was called and the CALLER got Bingo and she won.  Is that weird?

Now, maybe you know this already, but we have learned Bingo with the elderly is a very quiet game.  You can't talk.  If you do, you risk talking over the caller and they ALL get mad.  So, we watched all of these proceedings in relative silence, until the sweet lady next to us--whose middle name is my daughter's name--said, 'some people really like to win.'  I smiled and just left it at that.

This is long, so I will stop here and maybe share my ruminations about child rearing for another post.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pray for the Man

My darling husband is passionate about apologetics.  He is pretty alone in our little world, so it is understandable why he has been praying for an opportunity to go to a close, affordable conference.  And one is coming!!

At the end of the month there is a conference about 20 minutes from his brother's house!  Fifteen bucks!  God is good.  But my husband found out about it less than a month away, and at his work, you have to put in for holidays a month from the day you want to take off.  He managed to get the travel days off, but couldn't get the actual conference day, so he worked out a swap.

Someone will work for him on that day, and my husband worked for his buddy last night--10 pm to 6 am.  It's been a while since he has worked the night shift, and the job he got is fence patrol, literally driving in circles at 5mph for 8 hours.  His partners were joking that they expected to come to work this morning hearing about how he wrecked the truck. 

It's done now.  He is working his regular shift and I expect he'll come home and blissfully crash until tomorrow.  I pray his shift this morning is going well, and that he stays awake--especially on the drive home!

Friday, August 6, 2010


We are doing school today.  I feel like I am holding on by my fingernails.  We are right where we need to be, but I am cutting corners--academically and with my spirit.  School has turned into a checklist and nothing extra!  I am so eager for the next year, and so distracted by the fun of summer, and so focused on the preparation for a new KidsROCK season, that I am short changing where we are right now. 

I get this picture of turning a tight corner on a windy mountain road where the land drops away faster than you can drive.  I am making it around the corner, but only on two screaming wheels. 

I want to have fun with school--but I want to be done with school!  I want to have fun with school--but I want to go play at the river!  I want to have fun with school--but I need to get lesson plans written, website updated, homeschool group money balanced.  I want to have fun with school--but insert any excuse you like here.  Geez.  I am an eight-year-old!

Last summer we were productive, on task, getting all this wonderful meat from the lessons.  And we finished early enough in the day to play all afternoon.  When we schooled through summer, I thought I'd struck gold.   This summer I am just a grizzled old man scraping at the saloon floor for a bit of dust. 

I must say that today is the first day I have felt relatively human after a stomach bug.  Maybe as I recover I will get myself in better gear.  I am bored of this life lesson--live for today.  Haven't I already learned it??  Hmmm....I guess not.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What is supposed to freshen?

I love my darling boy, but the kid needs a bath!!  He is more than a little odiferous this morning.  Despite the urgency, he somehow got behind my daughter in line for cleaning. 

I love my darling girl, but the kid takes ridiculously hot baths!  She routinely sets off the smoke detector.  She has finally developed the habit of turning on the fan to help dissipate the steam. 

So, after her bath, we told the boy to run, not walk, to the bath.  He made his way in; he spun right back out.  Then he came and asked if he could wait for the bathroom to freshen up a bit before he took his bath. 

Son, I am not sure the bath is in need of freshening in quite the way you are!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I fail to see the point of a menstrual cycle if there is no possibility of becoming pregnant.  Especially when once a month  one feels as though one might just vomit up one's uterus.

What an unworthy post this is!

Outrunning Dreams

I know that everybody dreams.  So many people I know don't remember any of theirs and even claim to not dream.  I have always been able to remember many of my dreams, and my memories are very vivid.  Most of the time I like this.  I often try to stay awake just a little longer so I can hold on or finish a particularly intriguing dream.

But last night!!  First, I can remember a bunch of dreams, and they all were so uncomfortable.  In one I couldn't remember what my dh looked like!  In another, everyone was waiting on me and I couldn't find matching shoes.  Then my dog kept escaping and I felt so inadequate in making her behave, keeping her harness on, or getting her into the crate. 

In another I had gone to all this work setting up for a recital--not something I ever do--where the girls would change their clothes.   The one truly in charge had things set up entirely different.  I am even embarrassed to write about that, because it was so audacious for me to go around setting up for something I had no business doing. 

In my dreams last night, there were so many random people from my past.  I was back at the church I'd attended in Folsom and working.  A man from that time had carved two wooden signs welcoming me back from maternity leave.  It was so bizarre, but I just felt hot with anger.  I hadn't had a baby, and hadn't been on a break; I'd been working the whole time, but just in another area or something.  I kicked the sign over--like an overgrown baby!

Am I working through feeling inferior, or what??   On mornings like these, I find myself lingering in bed, not to hold on or extend a dream, but in a daze.  I don't feel like I actually slept or rested at all.  The whole night felt like a wrestling match.  I am worn and feeling ashamed. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Picture It!

My daughter came to me, with something I can only describe as gleeful guilt.  She said that last night she wanted to draw the picture.  She thought she should wait until morning but was afraid she might forget.  So she took the flashlight in her room, her notebook and colored pencils and drew a picture.  I think this was part confession, part bragging. 

She says she drew it in love.  I let that one be, but it makes me curious about what she meant by it.

Once I came to the computer, I called her over to tell me again about the picture.  I am taking a bit of dictation below.

"I wanted to see what it would be like if it was just me and God and no houses.  So I drew a tepee.  There is green grass and inside the tepee is a small little fire.  There is a bush and a small pool of water.  There is a  tree wtih a long branch with Jesus and me sitting down on it.  There are great big mountains that I think I made a little too big.   I added a gorgeous sunset.  OH, I almost forgot!  I added crowns, too.  A small one for me and a big one for Jesus." 

The photo just isn't good enough.  Wish my scanner would behave to give a clearer shot of her creation.  I have to say I wouldn't mind sitting in a tree at sunset by a pool of water with Jesus. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Psalm 55:22

My sweet son came to me this morning and said that he hadn't been feeling well last night. He said he wasn't sick, but sort of had the uneasiness that comes with being sick and couldn't describe it more than that.

So he got up, turned on the light, woke up the puppy for company and grabbed his Bible. He said he cried with it in his lap and prayed, 'Jesus, when I open this Bible, please let it be on the exact spot where I need it.'

He found Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

He said the he cried. He was so happy that God had answered his prayer and he understood.

I have never endorsed just opening the Bible to find a personal message. I appreciate that he asked first. I am not really comfortable with the idea that my son was alone crying in his room. I want to say that I want him to come to me when he needs comfort. But...I am so thankful that he decided to go to the One who will always be there for him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Feeling Sick Today

I am feeling just a little under the weather, but I stayed in bed until the kids woke up this morning.  They both joined me and we chatted.  I let them know I wasn't feeling so great and that eveon thought today is only our second day at the retirement home and if I have something contagious, I feel obligated to cancel.

My girl asked, 'what about us?'  What other response to that question is there than, "What about you?"? 

She asked what would happen to them if Daddy worked overtime.  I let her know that if I didn't go to the retirement home, even if Daddy comes home in time, no one would go. 

That isn't what she meant.  She wanted to know what would happen to them, herself and her brother, with me as the only adult in the house, but sick in bed.  :)

Ah!  I let her know that everything would be OK.  I am a mommy, and mommies know how to be sick and mommies at the same time.  I added as only a half joke that we just hold the baby while we throw up. 

She was quiet for a while and I thought the issue was dropped.  Then, so quietly, she asked:
"Will you teach me?  I don't know how to do that.  When I am sick, I just want to be in bed."

So sweet!